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Flipping the positive and negative mindset helps to make you think a bit more...

  • Jul 7, 2008
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Yes, I like self-improvement books as it only takes one or two ideas to radically change your approach and effectiveness in life. But if you read enough of them, it's a bit too easy to skim over certain things thinking "heard that, done that." Steve McDermott throws a curve ball in the genre by writing a book titled How to Be a Complete and Utter Failure in Life, Work & Everything: 44 1/2 Steps to Lasting Underachievement. Obviously, you know you're going to get improvement tips, but the framing of them in the negative helps to slow you down a bit...

McDermott's book consists of 44.5 chapters, or "steps", on how to continue along the same path of failure that the vast amount of people tread on a daily basis. So you start out with things like "Don't decide what you want. If you do decide what you want, don't think about why you want it. And if you do decide why you want it, commit to believing you can't have it." "Don't have any goals" is a pretty common theme for the less-than-stellar achievers in life, as is "Don't stop being an unthinking dog." Each step contains the negative exhortation, followed by a quote to avoid, details on why it's important not to do this particular step, and ending with actions not to take. The simple act of flipping the dominant idea from "do" to "don't" is enough to make you think a bit more about what he's actually telling you to do. Couple that with his very humorous writing style, and this book is not only useful but fun.

The only thing I found a bit strange/odd/difficult was the constant changing from the negative to the positive tense. Most of the chapter explains why that opposite reaction is used to accomplish greater things and be more effective. But he often changes from a "this is why this works" to a "so don't do it" so quickly that it makes for a difficult narrative flow. I still like the overall negative/positive angle, but you do have to work at some of the transitions to avoid thinking that you perhaps really *shouldn't* do what he's telling you not to do.

A fun read, well worth working through, especially for those who have an aversion to these types of books. At least if you fail, you'll have someone to look up to now. :)

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More How to Be a Complete and Utter... reviews
review by . July 17, 2008
I got this book, thinking it's be a quick, fun read. The problem is if you read it quickly, you missed the entire point.    "How to Be a Complete and Utter Failure" has its funny moments, but it's not "funny." It's thought-provoking, and I guarantee you can't get through the less than 200 pages without SERIOUSLY thinking about the issues the author brings up.    I guess it has something to do with expecting this to be light and giggly, but coming to page 9 …
review by . July 17, 2008
When I first began Steve McDermott's "44 1/2 steps to lasting underachievement," I felt that the conceit of giving advice backwards -- here's what to do if you want to fail, so do the opposite in order to suceed -- was just distracting, and not that amusing.  As I continued to read, though, I quite enjoyed the book. It serves up the usual motivational advice but updated with new research and examples. Oh, and backwards. "Don't get feedback on your actions," "Don't understand the secrets …
review by . July 17, 2008
A very pleasurable read. There really isn't anything in here that you couldn't get in other how-to-be-successful, self-help books. By writing chapters on things that, if done, will guarantee that the reader is unsuccessful, this book drives home in a humorous way what the alternative to success is: failure. The greatest thing about this book truly is the humorous presentation. A book with the greatest and most innovative content, left unread benefits nobody, but a book with nothing but time-tested …
review by . July 17, 2008
I suppose I should have been more charmed by this book, but it never grabbed me and I found its conceit boring after a while. There are so many books these days telling you how to achieve great things, distinguish yourself in work and life, and do all the things you want to do, I can understand that it takes a new and different approach -- an interesting creative hook -- to make your book stand out. Steve McDermott deserves some credit, I guess, for coming up with one. But it struck me that this …
review by . July 16, 2008
Success sucks! Failure rocks! Why would anyone see it differently? Steve McDermott presents the ultimate step-by-step guide at getting your life all wrong. But just in case you had any fancies to get it right, there's plenty of handy information in there as well.    The blend of humor and common-sense-good-advice-that-everyone-can-dish-but-never-takes makes this a great little read. From the pop-out one-liners, to the quotes to avoid and the funny little footnotes, no advice …
review by . July 14, 2008
Steve McDermott has taken a number of positives, given them a negative spin and placed them on the pages of his book, "How To Be A Complete And Utter Failure In Life, Work & Everything: 44 1/2 Steps To Lasting Underachievement." This book about failure is actually a very positive and uplifting list of steps to living a happier, more successful life. McDermott utilizes his many years of experience as a consultant and motivational speaker as well as the knowledge of multiple successful people in order …
review by . July 09, 2008
Clearly this is not a book for everyone.     While this is not a book on "How to be a failure", but it is an unique look at how to be a success. You are just reading from a completely new perspective. Each section ends in "Actions NOT to take". Again a clever approach to tackle the concepts.    My only complaint... despite the unique approach most of the material is pretty basic. In fact, it almost seems to be written by Tom Peters.... this a not a bad thing, …
review by . June 30, 2008
This book is a guide to self-improvement and personal success, presented cleverly in a humorous manner as a guide on how to fail... e.g., telling you what things you would NOT do if you want to succeed at failing! There are lots of good stories and examples and thoughtful quotes shared in this book. The style that guides this book helps engage the reader, since it comes across as novel, funny, and NOT just another self-help guide to success. For example, the book provides advice such as "don't talk …
review by . June 28, 2008
I couldn't even finish reading this. As the title implies, it's written as a self help guide by telling you to do everything wrong.     That gets old real fast.
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Thomas Duff ()
Ranked #43
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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About this book


Really want to know how to fail? Consistently? Massively? Irrevocably?


Steve McDermott’s spent years studying the world’s greatest failures: those extraordinary individuals who’ve spectacularly underachieved in every walk of life. They all use the exact same skills and strategies--and you can learn them, too. (Maybe you know some already!) In this quick, incredibly practical guide to failure, McDermott brings together dozens of state-of-the-art techniques guaranteed to help you crash, burn, and disappoint everyone in your life. In just minutes, discover how to fail at...


• Leadership                 • Relationships              • Personal growth          • Achieving happiness


• Teamwork                  • Planning                     • Goal-setting                • Careers


• Financial security        • First impressions        • And so much more!


DANGER: Do NOT attempt...

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ISBN-10: 0138138109
ISBN-13: 978-0138138103
Author: Steve McDermott
Publisher: FT Press

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